A grim view of the NHLPA and where the NHL is headed

If you haven’t gotten to following the New York Post’s Larry Brooks by now, it’s tough to say you’re keeping tabs on the NHL very closely. Ever since the NHL stepped up to challenge the NHLPA over Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract, Brooks has been the lone voice amongst team scribes to express what a dire situation this is for the players association. In his column today, he again picks up his journalistic drumsticks and continues the drum beat declaring doom and gloom on the horizon for the NHL and its players this time based around the NHLPA quibbling over attorney costs to fight the Kovalchuk grievance.

Indeed, Slap Shots has learned that union front-office personnel, including Fehr, expressed concern over the cost of attorneys’ fees in the Kovalchuk arbitration before turning to John McCambridge, a Saskin loyalist, who had been part of the 2004-05 negotiating committee but had not been involved in union business in years and who was no match at all for the estimable Bob Batterman, the league’s Crosby/Ovechkin among its stable of all-star lawyers.

It is stunning that Fehr was unable to recognize that the price of victory would be nothing compared to the cost of defeat. It is outrageous that the union would have quibbled over the equivalent of pennies when weighed against the nullification of a $102 million contract of one of its dues-paying, escrow-contributing marquee members.

It is, however, indicative of the headless operation that seems simply to be awaiting the slaughter in the next round of collective bargaining two years hence.

This is what happens when the union spends its resources looking behind and fighting old battles instead of preparing for the future and a new engagement against an all-powerful commissioner who remains ruthlessly committed to his vision of a hard-cap, lowest-common-denominator league.

Cold, harsh words from a writer who is very easily the biggest supporter of the NHLPA in all of the media. While we understand that talking about a potentially ugly labor war two years away from it happening may not be fun to read, nor may it be all that engaging, it’s better to have the discussion out there. Even though it’s a case of millionaires squabbling with billionaires over a Scrooge McDuck-sized pile of money, it cuts to the heart of the matter that this is a sport we all enjoy watching that gets spoiled by wealthy folks fighting over who gets more money and the only people that lose in a labor war are the fans.

After all, it was the fans that missed out watching hockey back in 2004-2005 when the owners locked out the players to crush them in labor negotiations and when they settled on things a year and half later, the fans were promised ticket price rollbacks and all sorts of other things to win them over again. While the game has again been made enjoyable to watch thanks to the league mostly adhering to its own rule book again, making the game cost friendly for fans never came. Ticket prices stayed the same or went up dramatically, the cost of merchandise is higher than it ever was and all this goes on while North America has dealt with an economic crunch that leaves regular folks with less flexible income. Yet here the fans are making sure that attendance is as good as it ever was for the most part. Perhaps we all deserve each other so let’s just forget about that potential labor war in 2012 and just feel free to call each other suckers instead.

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    The Buzzer: William Karlsson’s wild night; Hart Trophy race intensifies

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    Players of the Night: 

    Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche: MacKinnon’s MVP campaign got a serious boost on Sunday, as he picked up two goals and an assist in a win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Avs forward is now riding a 12-game point streak. He better start making room on a shelf for a Hart Trophy.

    William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights: Karlsson continues to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2017-18 season. His natural hat trick against the Flames puts him at 39 goals on the season. Who would’ve thought that we’d be talking about him as a 40-goal scorer?

    Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning: Even though MacKinnon is rolling right now, Kucherov won’t go away quietly in the race for the MVP crown. The Lightning forward picked up two goals in Sunday’s win over the Oilers. Kucherov has 36 goals and 93 points in 70 games this season.

    Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks: DeBrincat scored his third hat trick of the season in a losing effort. The rookie has 25 goals and 45 points in 73 games this season. He has a chance to score 30 this year.

    Alex Pietrangelo and Vincent Dunn, St. Louis Blues: The Blues came away with a huge comeback win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrik Berglund scored the game-winner in overtime, but Pietrangelo and Dunn each had four points in the victory.

    Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets: Laine has been a scoring machine of late. He found the back of the net twice in Sunday’s win over the Dallas Stars. He’s now scored 43 goals in 72 games this season. Laine’s picked up at least one point in 15 consecutive games.

    Highlights of the Night: 

    A wicked one-timer from Wild Bill:

    That’s an incredible backhander from MacKinnon:

    Here’s an unorthodox save from Fleury

    Factoids of the Night: 

    Dunn Deal


    Oh and Laine is a teen sensation

    DeBrincat’s having an impressive rookie season:


    Avalanche 5, Red Wings 1
    Golden Knights 4, Flames 0
    Lightning 3, Oilers 1
    Hurricanes 4, Islanders 3
    Flyers 6, Capitals 3
    Blues 5, Blackhawks 4 (OT)
    Jets 4, Stars 2
    Ducks 4, Devils 2

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Blues keep playoff hopes alive with big OT win over ‘Hawks


    The St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks have played games with more significance, but that didn’t take away from the excitement of St. Louis’ 5-4 win in overtime.

    ‘Hawks forward Alex DeBrincat opened the game with two first-period goals before the Blues managed to tie the game in the second frame thanks to a pair of power-play tallies by Alexander Steen and Vincent Dunn, who also assisted on Steen’s marker.

    The Blues thought they went ahead late in the second, but this goal was called back:

    Chicago went up 3-2 heading into the second intermission after David Kampf put them back ahead.

    Dunn collected his third point of the night when Vladimir Sobotka scored the equalizer at the 15:24 mark of the third period, but again, DeBrincat scored just over one minute later.

    Alex Pietrangelo, who assisted on St. Louis’ first two goals, managed to tie the game with 18:38 remaining in the third period to force overtime. Dunn registered an assist on the game-tying marker to give him four points on the night.

    Pietrangelo then helped set up Patrik Berglund‘s game, so he also finished the game with four points when it was all said and done.

    Here’s the OT winner:

    Despite being sellers at the deadline, the Blues now find themselves just one point behind Anaheim for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. St. Louis has four more regulation/overtime wins than the Ducks, which could be key down the stretch.

    As for the Blackhawks, well, they’re done like dinner.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Video: Ben Bishop injured after making terrific glove save

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    After missing five games with a lower-body injury, Ben Bishop made his return to the Stars lineup on Friday night against Ottawa. Unfortunately for Bishop, he seems to have run into some more injury trouble tonight.

    The veteran netminder was hurt after he made a fantastic glove save on Jets forward Bryan Little on Sunday night. The Stars Twitter account already confirmed that he suffered a lower-body injury and that he wouldn’t be returning to the game.

    Kari Lehtonen is now between the pipes for Dallas.

    The Stars are currently sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Bruins sign Olympic standout Ryan Donato to entry-level contract

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    The Boston Bruins have a plethora of young players coming through the pipeline, including Ryan Donato who they signed to a two-year, entry-level contract on Sunday night.

    The Bruins drafted Donato in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The 21-year-old spent each of the last two seasons at Harvard. In 2017-18, he finished the year with 26 goals and 17 assists in 29 games with the Crimson.

    Donato also represented the United States at this 2018 Olympic Games, where he had had five goals (tied for the tournament lead) in five games.

    The team has already announced that he’ll join them right away. He’s eligible to suit up in tomorrow’s game.

    “It came together in pretty short order,” GM Don Sweeney said, per the Bruins’ Twitter account. “We had always been committed to providing the opportunity to Ryan if and when he decided to leave school…I think it was an opportunity on both sides to explore with Ryan and see where he’s at.

    “He’s a kid that’s got a confidence about himself, a talent level, and he’s got some details he’s gonna have to work on – all young players do. But he’s a player that has hard skill. We’re looking forward to having him…get immersed and get a taste.”

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.